August 3, 2022 | FDD Tracker: July 6, 2022-August 3, 2022

Biden Administration Foreign Policy Tracker: August

August 3, 2022 | FDD Tracker: July 6, 2022-August 3, 2022

Biden Administration Foreign Policy Tracker: August

Trend Overview

Edited by David Adesnik and John Hardie

Welcome back to the Biden Administration Foreign Policy Tracker. Once a month, we ask FDD’s experts and scholars to assess the administration’s foreign policy. They provide trendlines of very positive, positive, neutral, negative, or very negative for the areas they watch.

Just hours before this tracker’s completion, news broke that a U.S. drone strike had killed Ayman al-Zawahiri, leader of al-Qaeda since the death of Osama bin Laden. The strike brought a measure of justice to the terrorist responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans. President Joe Biden reported from the White House that Zawahiri “had moved to downtown Kabul to reunite with members of his immediate family.” Zawahiri’s presence in the Afghan capital reflects the enduring strength of the Taliban relationship with al-Qaeda. Yet less than a year ago, Biden defended his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan by claiming al-Qaeda was “gone,” so “[w]hat interest do we have in Afghanistan at this point?” The Trump and Obama administrations also sought to obscure the relationship between the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Perhaps this fiction at the heart of U.S. counterterrorism policy will finally die along with Zawahiri.


By Craig Singleton

Previous Trend: Neutral

Maintaining social stability and managing China’s economic slowdown remain Beijing’s highest priorities ahead of this fall’s 20th Party Congress, where Xi Jinping will secure a third term as leader. Responding to China’s economic turmoil, which has manifested in violent bank protests and mass mortgage boycotts, will consume an increasing share of Beijing’s financial resources this year. Nevertheless, Beijing wasted little time responding to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s arrival in Taipei this week, announcing plans to conduct military drills encircling Taiwan and import bans on Taiwanese goods. Biden administration officials fear that Pelosi’s travel, which she did not coordinate with the White House, could undermine efforts to avoid a potential conflict. The crisis surrounding Pelosi’s trip has been exacerbated by President Biden’s repeated mischaracterization of Washington’s security commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act. For now, China’s principally aims to communicate its resolve to prevent Taiwanese independence without sparking a wider escalation, although Beijing will exploit the crisis as to accelerate efforts aimed at compelling a political outcome favorable to its interests.

At present, Washington appears ill-prepared to respond to a cross-Strait crisis while it remains preoccupied with the war in Ukraine. Beyond simply downplaying the Pelosi trip and reaffirming Washington’s commitment to its “One China” policy, it is time for Washington to recognize that symbolic demonstrations of support are no match for substantively improving the island nation’s ability to defend itself from Chinese coercion. That means working swiftly to pass a free-trade pact with Taiwan and accelerating efforts to augment Taipei’s defensive capabilities.


By RADM (Ret.) Mark Montgomery and Jiwon Ma

Previous Trend: Positive

Cybersecurity was at the top of the Biden administration’s agenda in July. On his first presidential trip to the Middle East, President Biden finalized bilateral agreements with Saudi Arabia and Israel to strengthen international cybersecurity partnerships and information sharing.

On July 1, the Department of Justice (DOJ) published its Comprehensive Cyber Review, detailing the department’s cyber-related activities. The review accompanied the DOJ’s latest Strategic Plan. Together, the two documents demonstrate the department’s commitment to addressing cybersecurity concerns, including expanded efforts to disrupt ransomware attacks on U.S. targets by September 2023.

Meanwhile, National Cyber Director (NCD) Chris Inglis is spearheading numerous cyber initiatives at the White House. First, Inglis and Director of the Office of Management and Budget Shalanda Young signed a memorandum detailing the Biden administration’s cybersecurity priorities for the fiscal year 2024 budget. The memorandum provides federal agencies with requirements to improve government networks’ security, collaborate to protect critical infrastructure, and create a resilient digital infrastructure.

Second, the Office of the NCD hosted the National Cyber Workforce and Education Summit at the White House, where industry and government leaders unveiled new initiatives and strategies to equip Americans with digital skills and knowledge and foster the cyber workforce. In addition, the press recently confirmed that National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan designated Inglis to oversee the drafting of the Biden administration’s forthcoming National Cybersecurity Strategy.

This month, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations will hold a nomination hearing for Nate Fick, Biden’s well-qualified nominee to lead the State Department’s new Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy.


By Bradley Bowman

Previous Trend: Positive

The Biden administration’s ambassador to NATO, Julianne Smith, joined all 29 of her counterparts in signing the accession protocols for Finland and Sweden on July 5, inviting them to join the alliance. Since then, 21 of 30 NATO countries have ratified the protocols. Unfortunately, the United States is not yet among them.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted on July 19 to support adding Sweden and Finland to the NATO alliance. Yet the full Senate has not yet held a vote on the so-called resolution of advice and consent. One wonders whether President Biden and his congressional affairs team have made a priority of encouraging Senate Majority Leader and congressional ally Chuck Schumer to ensure a full Senate vote on the matter before the August recess. The United States should have been among the first countries to approve adding the two Nordic countries to NATO — not among the last.

On July 22, the Pentagon announced $270 million in additional security assistance for Ukraine, bringing the administration’s total committed security assistance to approximately $8.2 billion. The assistance has played a critical role in helping Ukrainians blunt the Russian offensive and regain some territory. In particular, the administration’s provision of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, has enabled Ukrainian forces to precisely target ammunition depots, command posts, and bridges. That capability is paying dividends in the Kherson region, where Ukrainian forces are attempting to retake the first major Ukrainian city to fall to invading Russian forces in early March.


By John Hardie

Previous Trend: Positive

The Biden administration wants to cap the price per barrel of Russian oil exports, following a G7 agreement last month to explore the issue. While Western sanctions are inflicting severe damage on Russia’s economy, high energy prices have helped Moscow mitigate their impact. The proposed price-cap mechanism aims to reduce Russian export earnings while avoiding a spike in oil prices. It would do so by cutting off essential services, including insurance, for Russian oil shipments sold at more than a to-be-determined price.

G7 members aim to establish the mechanism before the EU ban on most imports of Russian oil takes effect in December. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and other U.S. officials discussed this issue with counterparts in Asia and Europe last month, including China and India, aiming to secure buy-in and work out the details. At the same time, Brussels and London eased efforts to restrict Russian oil shipments to third parties. The Biden administration wants to delay such measures until the price-cap mechanism is in place, hoping to avoid roiling oil markets.

Meanwhile, the administration continues to resist pressure to designate Russia a “state sponsor of terrorism.” Both Congress and Kyiv have pushed hard for the measure, which could enhance economic pressure on Russia. But the administration worries it would limit U.S. flexibility in implementing sanctions and rupture the remaining diplomatic ties between Washington and Moscow. The administration soon may not have a choice, however, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly warned Secretary of State Antony Blinken that if he refuses to act, Congress will.


By Hussain Abdul-Hussain

Previous Trend: Neutral

President Biden visited Saudi Arabia in mid-June for a summit with Arab counterparts from the region. Biden hoped the trip would reset U.S.-Saudi relations, reversing his earlier pledge to isolate the kingdom’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS). Instead, Biden’s visit deepened Saudi distrust in the current administration.

First, Biden offered MBS a fist bump instead of a handshake, citing COVID-19 concerns. The Saudi leader played along, but footage showed him exchanging warm hugs with all eight Arab leaders who participated in the summit. The U.S. president stood out as the only one who was not warmly welcomed.

Second, Biden tried to give the impression that Saudi Arabia itself was not the focus of his visit to the kingdom. “It happens to be a larger meeting taking place in Saudi Arabia. That’s the reason I’m going,” he said.

Third, breaking with protocol, Biden divulged some of the contents of his private talks with MBS, claiming he had confronted the Saudi leader for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Saudis were swift to rebut, implicitly accusing Biden of lying. While Riyadh would have accepted private criticism of its abysmal human rights record, Biden seemed more interested in mollifying progressive voices that opposed his trip.

Biden’s attempt to repair U.S.-Saudi relations while keeping his distance from MBS reflects the president’s misapprehension that he can deal with King Salman without going through his son, the crown prince. The result was an awkward summit and a reinforced Saudi feeling that Democrats hold their noses whenever they deal with Riyadh.


By Craig Singleton

Previous Trend: Neutral

The assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on July 8 sent shockwaves throughout the region. Nevertheless, Abe’s vision for a “free and open Indo-Pacific” remains at the core of Japan’s more assertive foreign policy as well as the policies of the United States, Australia, India, and many NATO member states, which appear increasingly willing to counter China’s regional revisionism. While the Biden administration has augmented its diplomatic engagement throughout this contested theater, efforts to bolster America’s defense capabilities remain woefully lacking. Complicating matters, the White House has still not released its National Defense Strategy or resolved longstanding intra-Pentagon disputes about the proper size of the U.S. Navy’s fleet. Meanwhile, China launched its latest aircraft carrier and appears intent on pursuing basing access throughout Melanesia and Polynesia.

Nevertheless, there have been some positive developments. For instance, representatives from the United States, Australia, Europe, South America, and the Indo-Pacific met in Canberra to discuss climate change and its security implications for the region; advanced technologies and their impact on security; and the implications of the conflict in Ukraine. That engagement coincided with this year’s Rim of the Pacific naval exercise, the world’s largest international maritime exercise, which included 26 nations, 38 surface ships, four submarines, approximately 170 aircraft, and 25,000 personnel. U.S. officials also held a virtual meeting with economic ministers representing the 14 countries that joined its Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. Such outreach will take on increased significance as Washington confronts what U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley called China’s “noticeably more aggressive” behavior.

International Organizations

By Richard Goldberg

Previous Trend: Negative

The Biden administration yielded to Russian demands at the UN Security Council to extend humanitarian aid deliveries to Syria for just six months, a victory for Moscow and the Bashar al-Assad regime. Separately, during a July visit to Bethlehem, President Biden announced the United States would contribute another $200 million to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), bringing the Biden administration’s total contribution to $618 million since 2021. Whereas the Trump administration halted U.S. taxpayer support for UNRWA, Biden has dramatically increased U.S. support for the agency despite ongoing concerns that UNRWA staff and schools promote antisemitism; that the agency does not submit its lists of employees, contractors, and beneficiaries for U.S. anti-terrorism vetting; and that UNRWA falsely defines millions of Palestinians as “refugees” and wastes much-needed global refugee assistance dollars on a bloated bureaucracy.

The Biden administration, meanwhile, sought to put a positive face on the outcomes of the 50th session of the UN Human Rights Council. “The United States supported the Council’s role of shining a spotlight on countries of concern, promoting accountability for governments and actors that abuse human rights, and addressing human rights issues across the globe,” the State Department said. Missing from the assessment was any acknowledgement that China remains a member of the council while lobbying to block the release of a UN report on the genocide in Xinjiang. Nor did the administration address its failure to terminate the council’s antisemitic Commission of Inquiry into Israel, which, according to one commissioner, will seek to libel Israel as an apartheid state.


By Richard Goldberg and Behnam Ben Taleblu

Previous Trend: Negative

In an op-ed ahead of his visit to the Middle East, President Biden announced he would continue to offer Iran a nuclear agreement that FDD analysts estimate would provide Tehran with $275 billion in sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. In return, Washington would receive limited and temporary checks on the regime’s nuclear program, no full accounting of Iran’s undeclared nuclear activities, and no restrictions on Iranian missile development, proliferation, terrorism, human rights abuses, or hostage-taking.

The State Department spokesperson, meanwhile, admitted the administration would keep negotiating regardless of how long Tehran drags out the process. Iran continued its nuclear misconduct, pledging not to cooperate with a UN probe into undeclared nuclear sites and materials and not to reactivate international surveillance at key nuclear sites — a decision the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency previously predicted would deliver a “fatal blow” to the Iran nuclear deal by early July.

Relatedly, the Biden administration revealed Tehran was preparing to sell armed drones to Russia to aid Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. When asked if Iran’s military support for Russia would affect U.S. offers to lift sanctions on Iran, a senior National Security Council official said the administration still wants a nuclear deal to move forward. Russia helped broker the version of the deal currently under negotiation and stands to make billions of dollars from it.

Finally, Iran’s crackdown on its Baha’i religious minority has worsened since the administration and 12 other countries issued a joint statement of concern in April.


By David May

Previous Trend: Neutral

During his July 13-15 visit to Israel, President Biden sought to demonstrate his support for Jerusalem’s regional integration and his determination to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

U.S.-Israel technology cooperation improved with the July 13 launch of the Strategic High-Level Dialogue on Technology, which followed a visit by National Cyber Director Chris Inglis.

Meanwhile, representatives of the I2U2 Group (India, Israel, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates) coordinated on food security, clean energy, and promoting normalization. In addition, Saudi Arabia opened its airspace to Israeli commercial planes, while Israel approved Riyadh’s purchase of strategic Red Sea islands from Egypt.

On July 14, the United States and Israel adopted a joint declaration that stresses the U.S. “commitment never to allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon,” U.S. military support for Israel, commitment to the Abraham Accords, and opposition to efforts to de-legitimize the Jewish state. Separately, Biden called apartheid accusations against Israel “wrong.”

However, tensions emerged when Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid stressed that deterring Iran requires “a credible military threat.” Also, challenging Israel’s sovereignty in east Jerusalem, Biden’s team removed Israeli flags from the presidential motorcade and prohibited Israeli officials from accompanying him while there.

Visiting Bethlehem, Biden promised several improvements to Palestinian lives and over $300 million in aid, mostly to UNRWA, the United Nations’ Palestinian-specific refugee agency, which has encouraged Palestinian obstinacy. Though Biden expressed his support for a two-state solution on the basis of the 1949 ceasefire lines, the Palestinian president reportedly called the trip a “big zero.”


By David Maxwell

Previous Trend: Positive

Facing continued threats from Pyongyang, Washington and Seoul are working to strengthen the alliance through aggressive military training, including their first live-fire combined helicopter training in three years. In August, the allies will hold their major semi-annual exercise, Ulchi Freedom Shield, which will include computer-simulated command-post training, civil defense, and live ground, air, and sea exercises.

ROK President Yoon Suk-yeol seeks to position his country as a “global pivotal state” by stepping up on the world stage. This vision aligns well with U.S. policy. Seoul’s plans for a historic arms sale to Poland and a $22 billion investment in American manufacturing, announced in late July, demonstrate its commitment to global engagement. Yoon also seeks to coordinate an “audacious new plan” with Washington for Korean security. However, the details have not been released.

The U.S. secretary of defense and the ROK minister of defense met on July 29 to discuss resuming the Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group to refine U.S.-ROK plans to deter North Korean nuclear attack. Pyongyang has yet to conduct a much-anticipated seventh nuclear test but will likely do so in the near future if Kim Jong Un believes it will advance his nuclear program and help extract concessions from Washington and Seoul.

On July 27, National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day, Washington and Seoul dedicated the Wall of Remembrance at the Korean War Memorial. The wall includes the names of all 36,634 U.S. military personnel who perished in the war, as well as those of the 7,124 fallen Korean soldiers who fought in U.S. units.

Latin America

By Carrie Filipetti and Emanuele Ottolenghi

Previous Trend: Negative

The Biden administration stepped up its anti-corruption campaign in Latin America. The U.S. State Department imposed visa bans against 61 officials from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua for engaging in “corrupt and undemocratic activity.” The department also designated former Paraguay President Horacio Cartes for engaging in “significantly corruption.” While long overdue, this action falls well short of addressing corruption in Paraguay, which cuts across the country’s ruling party, which Cartes leads. Moreover, the designation’s timing, unveiled as Paraguay heads into a contentious presidential election cycle, could be interpreted as a U.S. attempt to play kingmaker, which risks stoking anti-American sentiment in Paraguay and the broader region.

President Biden met with his Mexican counterpart, who conspicuously snubbed the administration’s Summit of the Americas in June. The meeting came on the heels of Mexico’s high-profile arrest of drug trafficker Rafael Caro Quintero. While the meeting was touted as successful, questions linger regarding Washington’s ability to fix broken ties with Mexico on critical regional issues such as immigration, arms and drug trafficking, democracy promotion in the Western Hemisphere, and corruption.

Rumors continue to fly about a possible U.S.-Venezuela prisoner swap in which Washington would exchange Venezuelan regime financier Alex Saab for American citizens held hostage in Caracas. Meanwhile, the Justice Department apparently delayed assistance to Argentina on the investigation of a Venezuelan-Iranian airliner crew currently stuck in Buenos Aires after Argentinian authorities seized the aircraft and the crew’s passports. A U.S. warrant to seize the plane, approved on July 19, was only issued on August 2 following considerable congressional pressure and hours after Argentinian authorities released most of the crew.


By Tony Badran

Previous Trend: Very Negative

Despite repeated failed attempts to corral Saudi Arabia into its scheme to underwrite the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), the Biden administration insisted on including a lengthy section extolling assistance to Lebanon in the closing statement of the mid-July summit in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi crown prince pointedly avoided any mention of Lebanon in his address. The administration instead enlisted Qatar, which agreed to provide a $60 million grant for the scheme. However, the administration has reportedly scrapped its plan to disburse the funds through the United Nations, as the implementing UN agency became mired in a corruption scandal.

Meanwhile, the administration continues to advance its other initiative to pump cash into Hezbollah-run Lebanon, namely the effort to broker a maritime border delineation deal between Beirut and Jerusalem. Even as Hezbollah launched multiple drones at the Karish gas rig in early July, the administration pushed the Israelis not to retaliate and to continue with the talks, while sending de-escalatory messages to the Lebanese. U.S. special envoy Amos Hochstein carried Israel’s counteroffer to Lebanon. Initial reports, citing Israeli officials, claim the counteroffer proposes “dividing gas revenues” between Israel and Lebanon. While the details of this proposed mechanism are unclear, Lebanon previously rejected a proposal for revenue sharing. Lebanese media have speculated that Lebanon could buy Israel’s share in the Qana prospective gas field in a three-way transaction involving Total Energies. Upon meeting Hochstein in Beirut, Lebanese officials denied he carried a proposal for “joint extraction.”

Nonproliferation and Biodefense

By Anthony Ruggiero and Andrea Stricker

Previous Trend: Negative

Russian soldiers have occupied Ukraine’s Zaporizhzya Nuclear Power Plant since March and converted it into a military garrison. Russian soldiers there reportedly are interrogating, injuring, and ransoming local workers. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) seeks to visit the plant to ensure safe and secure operations, but the United Nations reportedly denied the agency’s requests for assistance in gaining access to the plant, to avoid disrupting UN-facilitated negotiations over Ukrainian grain exports.

An adviser to Iran’s supreme leader declared that the Islamic Republic is a “nuclear threshold country,” which implies foreign powers could not stop Tehran from dashing to a nuclear weapon. Iran’s atomic energy agency chief, Mohammad Eslami, refused to reactivate IAEA cameras at Tehran’s nuclear-related sites, which further degrades the IAEA’s ability to monitor Iran’s nuclear program. Eslami also rejected the June 2022 censure resolution by the IAEA Board of Governors, which called on Tehran to answer questions about its undeclared nuclear activities. Eslami asserted that the board resolved that issue permanently prior to the 2015 nuclear deal.

Ahead of the 10th Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference in New York next month, Chinese state-backed think tanks are decrying the trilateral nuclear submarine deal between the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, known as “AUKUS,” alleging it sets a “dangerous precedent” that could lead to proliferation. However, the three allies are engaging the IAEA in talks to safeguard nuclear material aboard all submarines, and the IAEA director general reports he is “satisfied” with Australia’s nonproliferation commitments.


By John Hardie

Previous Trend: Positive

Ukrainian forces put U.S.-supplied HIMARS rocket artillery, along with similar weapons from other NATO allies, to devastating effect in July. The United States has so far provided Ukraine with 16 HIMARS, officially announcing the latest shipment after the fourth meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, held on July 20. Since the first four HIMARS arrived on the battlefield in late June, the Ukrainian military has used these systems to strike dozens of high-value Russian targets such as ammunition and fuel depots, command-and-control nodes, logistical infrastructure, and air defense systems. While the Russians are now redeploying forces to southern Ukraine in an apparent effort to stem a Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kherson Oblast, Ukrainian strikes against key bridges there may make Russian positions west of the Dnipro River untenable.

A key question now is whether United States and its allies can and will provide Ukraine with enough GMLRS munitions for its HIMARS in the weeks and months ahead. General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on July 20 that Washington had given Ukraine “hundreds” of these munitions, but the administration has declined to say exactly how many. On August 1, the administration announced another batch but did not specify the quantity. Kyiv is also pushing for the longer-range ATACMS missile. With an official range of 300 km, these missiles would enable Ukraine to strike deeper in Russian-occupied territory or even inside Russia itself, potentially crippling the Russian military’s logistical system. The White House has so far refused, however, fearing Russian escalation.

Sunni Jihadism

By Bill Roggio

Previous Trend: Negative

President Biden announced Monday evening that the United States had killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a July 30 drone strike on his safe house in Kabul, Afghanistan. As Biden noted, Zawahiri played an integral role in planning the 9/11 terror attacks as well as other attacks against Americans, including the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000 and the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

While Zawahiri’s death is undoubtedly a victory, the fact remains that Afghanistan is a haven for al-Qaeda following the U.S. military’s withdrawal from the country. The White House has attempted to sell Zawahiri’s assassination as vindication of Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and reliance on an “over-the-horizon” counterterrorism strategy. Yet as a UN report made clear just weeks earlier, al-Qaeda enjoys a strong alliance with the Taliban, which receives strategic advice from and provides support to the terror group. Indeed, the house where Zawahiri was killed apparently belongs to senior Taliban official Sirajuddin Haqqani. The Taliban provided further proof of its ties to al-Qaeda shortly after news of Zawahiri’s death broke, releasing a statement saying it “strongly condemns” the strike.

Separately, in a July 12 drone strike in northwest Syria, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) killed Maher al-Agal and wounded a “senior ISIS official closely associated with Maher.” CENTCOM described Maher as “one of the top five ISIS leaders and the leader of ISIS in Syria,” who was also building Islamic State networks outside of Iraq and Syria. CENTCOM also said that “ISIS continues to represent a threat to the U.S. and partners in the region.”


By David Adesnik

Previous Trend: Neutral

After insisting loudly that Moscow’s proposed restrictions on humanitarian assistance were intolerable, the United States let Russia dictate the terms of the UN Security Council resolution that governs aid shipments to northwest Syria. The United States and 12 other members of the council favored a full-year extension of humanitarian operations, while Moscow would concede only six months. As Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations, explained, this shorter timeline will complicate planning and limit the volume of aid, worsening current shortages. The six-month extension will also expire in the middle of winter, when the needs of displaced Syrians are greatest. This will put Moscow in an even stronger position to extract concessions in exchange for a temporary extension of aid.

While Moscow bears moral responsibility for its efforts to deprive millions of civilians of the aid on which they depend for survival, the Biden administration’s misguided approach to negotiations facilitated the Kremlin’s pressure tactics. Most importantly, the administration did not put in place a “Plan B” that would allow Washington and its allies to continue deliveries of aid regardless of whether Russia vetoed a new Security Council resolution. Thus, the administration enabled Moscow to confront the rest of the council with an awful choice: Accept Russian demands or let millions of Syrians suffer the consequences of a veto. The question now is whether the administration will let Russia once again have all the leverage when the UN resolution comes up for renewal in January, or whether it will finally commit to a Plan B.


By Sinan Ciddi

Previous Trend: Neutral

Following Ankara’s nominal agreement to support Finnish and Swedish accession to NATO at the Madrid summit on June 30, President Biden assured Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he would work hard to ensure Turkey could buy the latest model of the F-16 fighter jet. But congressional opposition due to Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile system could sink the F-16 deal. On July 14, the House of Representatives passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would place an additional roadblock in front of the F-16 sale. The amendment, sponsored by Representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Chris Pappas (D-NH), would bar the president from providing “new F-16 aircraft or F-16 upgrade technology or modernization kits” to Turkey. The president could waive the ban but would have to provide Congress with a certification that the F-16 deal supports U.S. interests, as well as “a detailed description of concrete steps taken to ensure” Turkey will not use the F-16s to violate Greek airspace.

It remains to be seen whether the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) will back the House measure. SFRC Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NY) has consistently opposed the sale of F-16s to Turkey, citing the Erdogan government’s numerous malign actions, such as its purchase of Russia’s S-400 surface-to-air missile system and threats to launch another military operation against Syrian Kurds. It is unclear how other SFRC members view the matter and whether Biden will encourage the committee to facilitate the weapon sale.


The analyses above do not necessarily represent the institutional views of FDD.


Arab Politics Biodefense China Cyber Gulf States Indo-Pacific International Organizations Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran in Latin America Israel Jihadism Lebanon Military and Political Power Nonproliferation North Korea Russia Syria The Long War Turkey U.S. Defense Policy and Strategy